Allegrini 2024

U.S. first in consumption, sparkling wines boom: how the wine market has changed in 20 years

Two decades of commitment for Istituto Grandi Marchi, which presented research on trends in Italian fine wines by Wine Monitor Nomisma

In 2004, the world’s top wine consumption market was France, with more than 33 million hectoliters; 20 years later, it is the United States that takes the top step on the podium, with 34.3 million hectoliters of wine consumed. In addition, Spain drops out of the top 5 and the United Kingdom enters. In the same period, the U.S. more than doubles the value of imported wine (from 2.7 to 6.2 billion euros), even higher growth in Canada (+152%). On the opposite front, maintaining world leadership, France doubles the value of exports, but best of all (among the top 5) does Italy: +174%. Against this trend is Australia: -22%. The wind has changed, even in Italy, and red wines in particular have been the losers: if 20 years ago they accounted for 54% of Italian production and 45% of national consumption, today they have dropped below 40%, both in terms of production and consumption (in a context where, at a total level, they have gone from 48.3 to 37 liters per capita). Sparkling wines, on the other hand, have exploded: the category’s weight in total domestic consumption has doubled, from 7% to 14%. These are the data emerging from the research, carried out by Nomisma’s Wine Monitor for the Istituto Grandi Marchi, in the 20th year since the organization, which groups 18 wine families, among the most important production realities in Italy, united by the desire to divulge the culture, traditions and set of ethical and sustainable values that make up the excellence of made-in-Italy wine, was founded in 2004. The report, presented today in Rome (Palazzo Grazioli), by Denis Pantini (Nomisma Wine Monitor) and the president of the Istituto Grandi Marchi, Piero Mastroberardino, analyzes the performance of Italian fine wines in international markets.
A kind of parallel history to that of the Institute, useful for observing the megatrends, in terms of perception and buying behavior, that have written the history of Italian premium wines in world markets. A look back 20 years in global wine consumption first shows a higher level of 6 million hectoliters compared to 232 today. This is not a big difference (-2.5%), but what has changed the most is the “geography” of consumption. Consumption is shifting and, as a result, imports are increasing and new competitors are appearing on the global scene. Even higher is the growth of sparkling in the incidence of export: from 6% to 24%, compared with a decline in bulk from 30% to 21%.
A qualitative repositioning of Italian wine exports that has moved simultaneously on several levels. Not only on typological upgrading (more sparkling, less bulk), but also on geographical destination (not only EU, but also North America and East Asia) and on price positioning, the latter resulting from an “upgrade” of denomination wines, particularly on the assortment front in the export basket. Hence-and among other things-increases in average export prices that brought, for example, Piedmont’s PDO reds from 3.88 to 8.91 euros per bottle or Tuscany’s PDO reds from 3.55 to 7.18 euros. Increases that drove the total bottled still wine category from 1.99 to 3.28 euros per bottle. In this scenario, the promotion activities of the Istituto Grandi Marchi have often represented a “pathfinder” role in those markets where quality Italian wine was still little known. Just think of China or South Korea: the first activities carried out there date back to 2004/2006, when purchases of Italian wine in China and Korea amounted to just 2 and 7 million euros, respectively, while today, the same countries import 108 and 63 million euros of wine from Italy. A role that is not only pioneering but also consolidating in those markets that are priorities for us, such as the United States and Canada, where even in these countries, from the Institute’s first activities to today, there have been significant increases in imports of fine Italian wines.
The study was presented today along with the celebratory logo and trailer for the docufilm, dedicated to the group’s 20 years, featuring the 18 families with their narratives, aspirations, goals and some anecdotes. The film will be presented in its full version during a special screening scheduled for the fall): “Celebrating the Institute's first 20 years is a moment that generates reflections”, says Piero Mastroberardino, president of the Istituto Grandi Marchi. “At the beginning of the 2000s, in a scenario in which few would have bet on a group format composed of actors accustomed to treading the boards as individual protagonists, the Institute immediately took the right path. Somehow “E Pluribus Unum” has been and continues to be our motto: many wine families of the highest level, each with an important past but nevertheless all willing to put their visions and aptitudes at the service of a team project. Thus the Istituto Grandi Marchi immediately became a case study on the sense and meaning of making a system, expressing the diversity of Italian production realities and, at the same time, representing the identity of tricolor wine beyond the borders. Today I like to be able to thank Piero Antinori, the first president, from whom I picked up the baton to continue this beautiful path that already has an important past, a beautiful present and for which, given also the new generations, it is easy to foresee a splendid future”.
In the two decades of its work, the Istituto Grandi Marchi, an ambassador of quality Italian wine in the world, through the organization of annual missions covering 31 countries on all continents, has organized 412 international events, 129 masterclasses, 125 walkaround tastings, 82 gala diners. But also market research and insights, with as many as seven surveys, conducted in collaboration with Wine Monitor Nomisma, as well as four awards to international journalists to celebrate those dedicated to the promotion of Italian wines and their territories. “Of course, there will also be other events to accompany our 20th anniversary”, adds President Piero Mastroberardino again, “in the fall we will be in Milan again. While, for the end of the year, we are planning other events that we will communicate in the coming months”. First stop Milan on June 18, for a big charity event in Hangar Bicocca, in collaboration with Fondazione Progetto Itaca. On June 25, in London, appointment with the group’s institutional event, which will also provide an opportunity to confirm the historic partnership with IMW (Institute of Masters of Wine) at a dinner at the Italian Embassy.

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